Japan and the U.S. might deploy the Global Hawk, a high-altitude reconnaissance drone, at Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture to increase surveillance of North Korea, bilateral sources said Saturday.
Equipped with sophisticated cameras and sensitive communications capabilities, the U.S. Global Hawk can fly at about 18,000 meters, roughly twice as high as commercial aircraft, for more than 30 hours on autopilot. It does not carry any weapons.
Interest in monitoring North Korea has been climbing since it began threatening nuclear strikes, and reportedly moved a midrange missile to its east coast Thursday.
Misawa Air Base is just one of several possible deployment locations for the drone, the sources said.
While the Japan-based drone plan would allow Tokyo and Washington to observe North Korea more frequently, some in the U.S. Defense Department have voiced apprehension about the cost involved.